Milk Man puts down his book. "Where are you going?"
He's wondering because it's dark and raining. The kids are in bed for the night.
"I'm going for a run. I'll see you in 20 minutes."
"You mean a jog," he corrects me.
"No, I mean a RUN." It's okay, he knows I'm weird and prefers me that way.
A revolution is a fairly quick shift in power. (See, Mrs. Ringle, I didn't forget.) This is what's going through my mind as I run in the rain. This is what I need to do for myself:
- Identify the patterns of thought and habits that are draining my energy and potential.
- Declare war on those things.
Hours of daily self-reflection is the fruit of being a stay-at-home mom. It's not that I'm not busy, but it's not like I shut off my brain and stop thinking when I'm cleaning the macaroni and cheese off the wall. My brain feels idle a lot although my hands are very engaged. My cynical, negative imaginary friend likens it to working on a factory assembly line. The angel on my shoulder says it's such a blessing to be fully present to savor the little ones! I feel somewhere in the middle of these opinions, occasionally shifting more towards one or the other, depending on how my day goes. I like to daydream that I'm on the verge of a big and exciting shift in my life. On one hand, it is a blessing to be isolated in this way, because it forces me to read more, and contemplate the direction of my life as I sit in neutral, raising my kids. However, I've discovered that I don't like to face myself in the silence of my own thoughts, because I'm not comfortable with change. I want to run from change.
I was the thoughtful daughter who didn't make mom wait up too late. I am terrified of being selfish, inconsiderate, a failure. Guilt has a way of controlling me. I'm the play-it-safe girl who never ventures past the line of waves in the ocean regardless of how joyful the people swimming beyond them look. I dig my feet in the sand, my chair wedged on the edge of foaming water teasing my toes. There are invisible things about me that I dislike.
I have to change. The patterns of thought, fears and weaknesses I've been able to ignore in previous roles parade across my mind like giant red worker ants distracting me as I read Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs to the kids. They giggle and wrestle, oblivious to Mommy's little mental struggle.
Today is just as good as any other to start living unapologetic and boldly, I think as I run past my house for the third time. I look toward the driveway, pretending I don't drive the minivan parked there. The light in the upper hall window looks so inviting and cozy. I run faster. This is the first act of my personal mini-revolution. No, I'm not leaving my family, are you crazy?! I love my kids more than life and my husband is the greatest man in the world. I need to break away from my old self and change on the inside.
Today I planned out a garden. I marked the dirt with line chalk and flipped it over with a shovel. It felt good to dig out the space. Then I added more topsoil and started planting seeds. My mud-covered children helped press the tiny pellets into the dirt. They had a blast. I lined the edges with berry bushes: blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. In a few weeks the center will have vegetables and the sides will have fruit. When we were finished we soaked the garden with water; the kids lined up behind me holding the hose like firefighters. Meanwhile I was thinking about how I used to pick the raspberries in my grandpa's backyard, and my grandma (LaCapria) and I would wash them, pile them into a cream-colored bowl and eat them. I planted sunflowers in the back row because I love beautiful, defiant WEEDS, and four-O'clocks in the front (a flower from my childhood). Next to the sunflower seeds are foxgloves and hollyhocks, a reminder of my dad's garden.
When I was done I felt so good! Running and gardening...how does this change me into someone I like better? Perhaps it's my active attempt to dramatize spiritual and emotional growth in my life. If not, at least I'll get back the old Loren body that turned people to stone in her bathing suit.
Picture is Sunflower Heaven by Joslynan on Flickr